Insider tips: Planning a trip to Porto
Megan & Aram is a travel blog that focuses mostly on travel in the Nordics and Eastern Europe with the occasional trip beyond those regions. We love coffee, promoting small businesses, and sports. To read more about what they have to say about Porto click here!
What should I do on my first trip to Porto?
You will find plenty of signficant attractions in Porto for a first-time visitor but one of the best things to do is to take in the iconic view of Ribeira from across the Luís I Bridge. This double-deck bridge passes over the Douro River and connects Porto with Vila Nova de Gaia. Once you walk across the bridge, you will see the spectacular view of Porto that lands itself on so many postcards! When you make your way over to this side of the water, pop into Calem Caves for a port wine tasting through their extensive cellar and portfolio of the famous drink.
What are some hidden gems to see in Porto?
Porto is a maze of hidden gems and corners and one can't-miss stop for coffee lovers is to hit up Combi Coffee Roasters. They coffee shop was founded in 2015 and now includes two sops where they roast their coffee and work alongside ethical cooperatives and farms to source top-quality, single-origin coffee from all over the world. Another fantastic thing to do in Porto when visiting is to take a day trip to Sistelo, a mountain village known for its terraces and ability to adapt to the high topography. It is about 1.5 hours away from Porto and is easily reached by train for an 11 Euro ticket.
How much time should I spend in Porto?
You can see most of the highlights in Porto within two days easily, but if you really want to dive deeper into the city, it is recommended to stick around for a few extra days and explore its beaches and embark on some cool regional day trips. You can visit the Douro Valley, Braga, and Aveiro all rather easily from Porto and they are all some of the top destinations in the country.
What food is Porto known for?
Porto is synonymous with world-famous Port wine and you can enjoy a tasting at almost any bar or wine cellar throughout the city. Calem Caves is a popular choice for a night out. Don't leave without tasting the heavy, yet hearty Francesinha sandwich, a traditional sandwiches that stuffs two thick layers of bread with ham, steak, and cheese before topping it with beer gravy and a fried egg. Be sure to also visit the many markets throughout the city (or take a food tour)!
What is the best way to get around Porto?
There are plenty of ways to move about Porto and the best way to explore is on foot! You will stumble upon so many gems and hidden secrets this way! However, you can also take the Porto Metro light rail network around the city or buses. You will also get transportation discounts and freebies if you purchase the Porto City Card.
What are the best months to visit Porto?
While it may be the high-season and hotels may be pricier, the best time to visit Porto is from May until October. During this time, you will experience a lot of sun and the temperatures are warm but the close proximity to the ocean helps things stay relatively manageable.
What is neighborhood Ribeira known for?
The most famous neighborhood in Porto is Ribeira, the old city that sits along the Douro River and is lined with cozy bars, eateries, and charming buildings. This is also where you will find colorful homes from the 18th-century and neoclassical Palacio da Bolsa, one of Porto's most famous attractions.
What are the best neighborhoods for food?
If you wander about Ribeira, you will find plenty of restaurants but many cater to tourists and the prices are proof of that. If you're looking for fine dining and an interesting take on Portuguese cuisine, opt for a place in Vila Nova de Gaia across the river from Ribeira. The Yeatman is a Michelin-star restaurant located in the neighborhood. If you're seeking overall diverse food options, head to Baixa. There are also plenty of markets in the area where you can grab ingredients for cooking at your accommodation if the place allows it.
What are the best neighborhoods for shopping?
Porto is a goldmine for shopping and you will find boutiques, high-end shops, thrift stores, and many food markets throughout the city. Around the Bolhão Market, you will find many mercerias, or old fashioned grocery stores that sell traditional ingredients and fare. Book lovers will love Livraria Lello, one of the world's most beautiful book stores. You will also find several of the city's most famous shopping along Rua de Santa Catarina street in the city.
What neighborhood should I stay in when I visit Porto?
You will find hotels, guesthouses, and hostels all throughout Porto but the top neighborhoods to stay in as a traveler are Ribeira, Bonfim, Marques, Cedofeita, and Baixa. Each has its own perks and own drawbacks. If you opt to stay in Ribeira, do be aware that it is busy and can be noisy. However, it may be a great option for those who are older or those unable to walk far distances.
What is the best thing to do in Porto for couples?
Porto is so beautiful and aesthetically charming that it is a fantastic place for a romantic getaway with your signficant other. One can't-miss activity is to check out a Fado show in Porto. There are plenty of places to enjoy this but you can combine it with a Port wine tasting at Calem and other cellars in the city. Another fantastic place to visit is Serralves, a contemporary art museum that is surrounded by extravagent parks and gardens. You can have a picnic here or just enjoy a stroll. Another top pick is to take a cruise on the river or to bolt out of town and enjoy a day trip to the Douro Valley!
What are the best beaches around Porto?
Porto has so many beaches nearby that it is hard not to feel the lure to visit one when you are in Portugal's second city. One of teh best beaches to visit during your time there is Praia dos Ingleses, a city renowned for its long boardwalk and natural beauty. Another one, and perhaps the most accessible and largest is Praia de Matosinhos, a port area konwn for being only 15 minutes away from the center of the city.